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Tinker has seen fatal, nonfatal crashes over the years

During its 75-year history, Tinker Air Force Base has had a number of crashes, both fatal and nonfatal. While most of those incidents have taken place on base, on two occasions a plane flying to Tinker crashed into a home in Midwest City. In both instances, two lives were lost.

In May 1974, a pilot from Tinker was flying a Northrop T-38 Talon on a training mission. The pilot and his co-pilot were approaching the base to land when the aircraft lost power, according to Tinker historical documents. Witnesses also said the plane's engine backfired just before impact, indicating a possible engine failure. The pilots were able to regain control enough to avoid an apartment complex, however they crashed into a home on Del Casa Circle before they could eject. Both pilots were killed.

“Oh my god! My beautiful $35,000 home,” exclaimed Paul Shofner, a Tinker employee upon seeing his home that was destroyed in the crash. Shofner and his wife, Lisa, had not been home at the time of the accident.

Witnesses said the plane clipped a group of trees before bouncing off the pavement of the cul-de-sac and pushing a car in the Shofner's driveway through the home.

About a decade later in 1985, an air support aircraft that had been repaired at Tinker set off for a test flight after it had been disassembled for cleaning and maintenance, said Lt. Gen. Richard Burpee, acting commander at Tinker at the time.

The engine caught fire about six miles north of the base, and the pilot was trying to find his way back to the base for an emergency landing, Burpee said. The plane was not going to make it back, and the pilot found an open field in which to land. The pilot ejected just before the plane skipped off the ground, plowed through an oak tree, and crashed into the only home in the immediate area, killing an elderly attorney and his sister.

"They never knew what was coming," Midwest City police spokesman Sid Stell told The Oklahoman the day of the crash. "I don't think they ever heard a thing."

It was incidents like those that led the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments and the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct a joint land use study to determine best practices for development around the base.

Read the complete article here.

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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.